ARLINGTON -- The Dallas Cowboys' Ring of Honor announcement got off to a late start Friday afternoon. Drew Pearson had waited 28 years for his moment. What was another five minutes?
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones informed Pearson and Charles Haley minutes before the newsconference that they would be joining Larry Allen in the Ring of Honor at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys will induct the three at their Nov.6 game against the Seattle Seahawks.
"This is a great honor," Pearson said. "It comes at a good time for me. Everybody says, 'Drew, you should have been in before.' I don't really care about that, because now is the time. Now, is the right time, because this is God's time. This is a good time for me."
It has been six years since Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin were inducted into the Ring, which was the last time Jones, the sole decision maker, added to the exclusive club. The team's Ring of Honor, which encircles the stadium on the Star level, includes 15 players, plus coach Tom Landry and team president Tex Schramm.
"Tex Schramm is smiling. I know he is," Jones said. "His thoughts about the Ring of Honor, and he's the man who started it, was to make it very exclusive. He said, 'When someone goes in there, I would hope that people would say Dallas Cowboy. That's a Dallas Cowboy.'"
Allen, an offensive lineman who played for the Cowboys 12 years (1994-2005), learned of his induction from Jones while attending last week's preseason game against the Denver Broncos. A man of few words anyway, Allen was speechless. He spoke for only 45 seconds at Friday's news conference.
Jones said adding Allen was an easy decision, rating him the best player on the team during Allen's tenure with the Cowboys. Allen is eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013.
"Larry has a chance to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer," Jones said. "There was never a lot of thought whether Larry Allen would be in the Ring of Honor."
Haley, who played for the Cowboys from 1992-96 after a trade from the San Francisco 49ers, was giddy at his inclusion. He put Aikman in a bear hug and lifted the former quarterback off the ground after Aikman offered him congratulations Friday.
Jones is hoping it will help Haley's Hall of Fame candidacy. Haley has been a finalist for the Hall of Fame the past two years without making the cutdown from 15 to 10.
"I really wanted to make whatever point about how highly Charles is thought of by the Cowboys, as he's going through this [Hall of Fame] process," Jones said.
Allen and Haley will be added to the north facade. Pearson, who played for the Cowboys from 1973-83, will join former teammates Tony Dorsett, Randy White and Roger Staubach, among others, on the south facade.
Staubach lobbied hard for Pearson's inclusion into the Ring of Honor.
Jones said Staubach, who served as chairman of the North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee, "laid in front of the train" for Pearson.
"In Cowboys history, I mentioned [to Jones that] Drew Pearson was as big a part of it as anybody," Staubach said. "For the credibility of the Ring of Honor, I think Drew [needed to go in].
"But I'm a big Drew Pearson fan. You look at the big plays he made. He's one of the biggest clutch receivers in NFL history."
Pearson didn't ever give up hope of getting into the Ring of Honor, but he did feel forgotten. As it turned out, Pearson didn't need another Hail Mary to earn his place in Cowboys' immortality.
"The thing is you can't run any more routes; you can't do anything to add to what you've done," Pearson said.
"All you can do is hope your time will come based on what you had done, and hope it's enough.... Even though other guys went in ahead of me, I always felt confident one day my day would come."